Adventure Length: Get A Room
Month We Adventured: October
Ideal Time for this Adventure: Summer/Fall
Bring: Overnight gear, hiking boots
Adventure Begins & Ends: Aragosta at Goose Cove
Portland -> Deer Isle = 3 hrs
When we arrived on Friday night, the sun had already set. As we drove down the winding road to check in and find our cottage for the weekend, a family of deer stopped us in our tracks as they dashed in front of the car. Our little one in the back seat took a lot of pleasure knowing there were, in fact, deer on Deer Isle. A little magic, I thought, to kick off our weekend.
It was late and dark. The only thing visible were the twinkling lights shimmering off of the restaurant as we made our way to check-in. We had no idea what surrounded us and wouldn't until the morning.
We found our cabin and husband, kid and pup in tow we hurried in to check out our digs for the weekend. The kiddo found children's books piled next to the bunk beds and she happily occupied herself for a few minutes while we unloaded the car. Clearly, a little sprinkling of magic from another fellow parent. Thank you.
We poured wine, made a fire and tucked in for the evening.
We knew it would be rainy for most of the weekend, and there was a small two hour window in the morning before the clouds would set it. We threw on our boots and layers and made our way to the Barred Island Preserve trail. As we discussed the fairies that clearly inhabited the woods, the smell of pine and the moss covered ground guided us to the ocean. I fell behind for a second and for the first time since the pandemic started, I finally took a big, deep breath. When we circled back to Aragosta, it was only then that we were able to take in the magic for the first time of what you have created.
I bet you didn't know that collecting buoys is our favorite activity to do as a family. But yet there were tons scattered along the shore that day.
I bet you didn't know that my husband hoped breakfast would be pancakes with blueberries. Magic, my daughter said as we carved into big stacks of them.
I bet you didn't know that after a day of exploring Deer Isle, our family of three took a two hour nap together snuggled in bed with a warm fire glowing next to us and the soundtrack of rain outside. Our daughter hasn't napped in years.
And I bet you didn't know that it was my husband's birthday and the dinner was probably the best meal we've ever had. And the pasta you created from scratch and on the spot, just for our little lady who dressed up in her fanciest dress and impressed your kind staff with her best manners all evening, she deemed "the best pasta in the world." You didn't make us feel guilty for bringing our best pal with us and that dinner is a memory that we'll always cherish.
Thanks for the magic, Aragosta. See you next year.
Adventure Length: Get A Room (or an RV!)
Month We Adventured: Summer
Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, water, water shoes. To fully follow this adventure, you'll need an Airstream/RV. I recommend booking from Outdoorsy.
Adventure Begins: Moosehead Family Campground at Moosehead Lake
Portland -> Moosehead Lake Region -> 3.5 Hours
Adventure Ends: Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA in Bar Harbor
Moosehead Lake -> Bar Harbor -> 3 Hours
Sitting down and looking at our summer calendar had me feeling a little down. Normally, our summer calendar would be filled with friends visiting us to get in some quality Maine summer time, family trips, etc. Obviously, this summer is pretty different and our (obvious) focus is staying safe and healthy, and doing the same for our family and friends.
We've always tossed around the idea of renting an Airstream and taking our daughter on a massive adventure. And we figured this summer was the perfect time to do it. However, we condensed our adventure to a long weekend and made sure to stay in state.
We rented a 2015 Airstream Interstate from Outdoorsy and did a pickup in York, Maine from the awesome owner, Gregory. Booking through Outdoorsy was almost too easy and the pickup from Gregory was equally seamless. The Airstream was spotless and he made sure to help these newbies understand the ins and outs of the vehicle. The bed is a Queen size bed (tight, but was totally fine for the three of us) and there is a bathroom on board - an antsy 4 year old kid's dream.
So, he handed over the keys....and we were off.
We made the drive from York to Moosehead Lake. We rented a camping site from Moosehead Family Campground, a no-frills, simple campground that is family run that had hook-ups for the RV. It was about a 5 minute drive from the bottom of the lake. The thing that is so incredible about this place - and really all campgrounds I looked at in this area - is how affordable they are. I really had no idea what to expect. The sites range from $20-$40/night. There were people camping, RVing and a mix of both - and it was more than worth the price, in my opinion. We were greeted by rabbit friends every morning and it was totally quiet at night.
We arrived around dinner time so immediately plugged our RV in and made the walk over to The Farm at Moosehead. That is the other awesome thing about this campground - they are only about a 1 minute walk to this particular restaurant and then about a 5 minute drive to the rest of downtown.
I had read about their wood fired pizzas, BBQ and their beautiful little farm. We ordered a pizza from the sweet couple/owners who greeted us and made our way to an outside picnic table overlooking the farm. They encouraged our daughter to greet all of the animals before dinner came and she happily took them up on this. We met baby pigs, baby rabbits, many chickens and more. If you ask Harper what her favorite part of the entire Airstream adventure was, she will tell you it was meeting the animals our first night. And the food was delicious (get the cheesecake if they have it, trust me.)
After our bellies were full and Harper pretty much kissed every animal goodbye, we raced to Lily Bay State Park to catch the sunset. And man, I was so glad we did. Lily Bay is a gem of a state park that sits on Moosehead Lake with plenty of trails to explore, campsites, playgrounds, a beach - it goes on and on.
The next day I had one major thing on my mind: Moose. Here's the thing I've learned about Moose. Unless you are on, like, a "Moose Safari" with one of those companies - you'll never see them when you want to see them. If you actively go searching for them, at least for me, they decide it's a good day to stay to themselves. One day, I'll learn this lesson and be more carefree in my moose searches.
However, we'll save that lesson for another day. I had searched and searched to find a bog that would almost guarantee a Moose sighting. The Lazy Tom Bog, located just past the town of Kokadijo (where their welcome sign proudly boasts: "Population: Not Many") is a Moose hotspot. So, after stuffing some breakfast in our face we made the drive from the campground. It's a beautiful drive, but once you pass Kokadijo, the road turns to rough dirt/rocks, so make sure you have a car that can handle it.
When we arrived, we parked just to the right of the bridge and walked down to the water. Pretty, but we didn't see a Moose. So, we walked back up to the top of the bridge where we found two other people on the search as well. Once they saw us, they said "Wow! You were so close to him!" WHAT?! Apparently, a Moose had been watching us directly across the bog but scurried off before we could see him. Oooooooof.
After waiting (im)patiently in the hopes to see another moose (alas) we carried on for our next adventure. After having lunch in the RV (I mean, the convenience of it all is insane!) we headed to hike Mount Kineo.
To access Mount Kineo, you have to take the Golf Course Shuttle across Moosehead Lake which carries, of course, golfers but hikers as well. I know, you are probably thinking: why would I want to hike a mountain that is located at a golf course? But Mount Kineo is a special place. The glorious mountain has incredibly beautiful, family-friendly hikes all while hosting an impeccable golf course. It's sounds strange on paper, but trust me on this one.
The hike to the summit is easy, and one that our four year old really had no trouble completing. The rewards of views at the top were enough to keep her motivated.
After this, we decided we deserved an adult beverage. We made our way to the Spotted Cat Winery. It is, indeed, as cute as it looks. We were greeted by the owners, a couple who live on the property and were treated to a wine tasting before making our purchases. They make the wine on their property and sell fun tshirts, candles and other goodies to accompany your wine purchase. PS: Get the Strawberry wine!
After a cozy night's sleep (read: Harper's arms and legs hitting me all night), we woke up and were on the road early to head to our next stop: Bar Harbor! After a stop and start 3 hour drive, we made our way to Echo Lake. It's a gorgeous lake situated on the western side of Mount Desert Island with stunning cliffs (part of Beech Mountain) that have a couple trails that lead to an impressive lookout. We spent a better part of the morning swimming and building sand castles. Bonus Points at Echo Lake (and much of Bar Harbor/MDI at that): they have parking specifically designated to RV's - score! Made parking totally painless with an oversized vehicle.
Once again we thought: you know what we deserve, an adult beverage. That's what. We ventured to Atlantic Brewing and sat outside on their patio while Harper happily snacked. A perfect pint on a beautiful day.
We then made our way to our campsite for the night at KOA Bar Harbor. So, I'm obviously an RV rookie - but this is a spot I would recommend to everyone, all ages. Our site was directly on the ocean, with a private beach. I literally couldn't believe it when we pulled in. Harper was a busy bee all afternoon playing at the beach, and we had to literally bribe her to make her go to dinner. We didn't partake in the many offerings at the campsite (activities for kids, bonfires, etc.) but next trip when the world is in better shape, we certainly will. Highly recommend this spot.
After our bribes were complete, we made our way into Bar Harbor for dinner. We had reservations outside on the patio at Salt & Steel. They followed all safety protocols to a tee, and the food was top notch. We'll be back here for sure.
To finish our awesome long weekend, we raced back to our site to drink the wine we purchased from The Spotted Cat Winery, roasted Marshmellows at our private site and watched the sunset. And felt really, really grateful.
Adventure Length: Get A Room
Month We Adventured: June
Ideal Time for this Adventure: Summer
Bring: Bug spray, bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks & wine/beer for the cabin.
Adventure Begins: Attean Lake Lodge in Jackman, ME on Birch Island.
Portland -> Jackman: 3 Hours
Jackman -> Portland: 3 Hours
I couldn't tell you how I find this place. I was daydreaming and searching for a perfect getaway during COVID times, and somehow I stumbled upon this oasis on an island in Jackman, ME. A private cabin (with no electricity) on a private island with all meals included? We got our masks and we were off.
Attean Lake Lodge is a true family business and you can read about the history here. Brad and Andrea live on the island, along with Barrett (Brad's son) and Josie (and their two sweet kiddos.) They know every guest, and if they don't, you better believe they will all introduce themselves to you to make you feel like part of the family. We were greeted by the entire family within hours of being there.
So, it became clear right away we were one of the only newcomers - and I mean this in the best way. The first woman we chatted with had been coming to Attean since 2001. Once you go, you go again. And again.
But the website doesn't give you a whole lot of information, so it all feels a little mysterious. The address I found took you to a parking lot, and once you arrived, apparently a man named Karl would appear from his cabin, at the end of the parking lot, to greet you and get you on a boat to head to Attean.
And when we arrived, there was in fact a little cabin at the start of the lake that indeed, housed a sweet man named Karl. Karl amused us with the history of the island, told us to keep a look out for the dog that roamed the island who loved kids and that we may have a hard time sleeping at first because it is shockingly quiet.
We boarded a private boat that took us on a 5 minute boat ride to Attean. When we pulled up, we were shown to our private cabin. We had booked the Pound Ridge Cabin - a cabin at the farthest end of the island. I had prepped myself going in that the cabin would be pretty rustic considering there was no electricity, but it was honestly cleaner and better kept than most hotels I have stayed in. The bedrooms were simple, clean and perfect for the three of us and the hot water was much appreciated. Kerosene lamps helped light the rooms. If we didn't have our four year old running around us in circles, I would have said it was supremely romantic.
And once you are checked into your cabin....the rest of your adventure is up to you. We ran to put our bathing suits on and headed down to the beach.
Attean serves breakfast between 8AM-9AM and dinner between 6PM-7PM. For breakfast they offer two daily specials (our first day it was Blueberry Pancakes or a Ham & Cheese Omelet) AND pretty much anything under the sun that you could possibly want otherwise (I got scrambled eggs and toast both days - super cool and original, I know.) For dinner, they provide a choice of two appetizers (first night it was chowder or a green salad), a choice of an entree (first up was Salmon or Steak) and a choice of a dessert (first night we all got the Strawberry Shortcake.) Wine and beer available at dinner.
They provide a simple bagged lunch (in a cooler) with a canteen (filled with your choice of lemonade or iced tea) that they encourage you to take with you so you can adventure throughout the day. You can choose whichever type of sandwich you'd like with a handful of varied options each day. LOVED this. It helped remind us to get off a schedule, relax and just enjoy the day wherever it takes you.
I wasn't expecting to like the food as much as I did. In particular, the baked goods were insane. Each meal they provide a basket of freshly baked goodies directly upon sitting down - blueberry muffins, homemade biscuits, etc. Always hot and fresh.
Other than eating an insane amount of food, here are some other activities we did:
Hope to be one of those regulars. See you next Summer, Attean.
Adventure Length: Get A Room
Month We Adventured: October
Ideal Time/Length for this Adventure: Long Weekend
Bring: Layers (it's chilly in October this far up!), hiking boots
Adventure Begins: Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabasset Valley. This was our AirBnB which was perfect for our short weekend and exactly as described. Anywhere along the mountain will promise exceptional leaf peeping views.
Portland -> Carrabassett Valley = 2.5 Hours
Adventure Continues: Rangeley Lakes Region.
Carrabassett Valley -> Rangeley = 1 Hour
Rangeley -> Portland = 2.5 Hours
My husband and I have an affinity for visiting locations in their "off-season." Mount Snow in July? Sign us up. Kennebunkport in Winter? Sounds like a dream.
We had a weekend coming up with nothing on the books and we'd been curious about visiting Sugarloaf for awhile. I hopped on AirBnB to see if anything might be available 5 days out and was met with multiple fantastic options for all super reasonable prices. Off season, folks.
Also, I am just going to say it now: this was our favorite adventure we've taken so far in Maine. I'll be checking myself as I write this to see if I am overly romanticizing it, but if this post sounds like a love letter to Carrabassett Valley it just might be.
We rented an apartment at Sugarloaf Mountain that was the lower level of someone's gorgeous mountain home. We were met with treats and wine when we walked in.
But first I need to talk about the drive here. October in Maine and especially this part of Maine, was unlike anything we'd really ever seen. The rolling mountains and changing of leaves was enough to even make Harper stare out her window for the long drive and take in the ridiculous beauty around us. Okay, it's already getting mushy, don't know what to tell ya.
Also, I mentioned to Andrew that if there was ever a place to see a Moose this would be the place. And just to loop you in: seeing a Moose in the wild is quite literally a bucket list item that I talk about on the regular. I'm...obsessed with them and may or may not seek out adventures that put me in a strong position to potentially see one. Though I have come up moose-less on past adventures, you can't stop me from trying.
We arrived late afternoon on Friday, unpacked a bit and made a straight away to The Rack which was a 5 minute drive down the mountain. Simple, not fussy food in a super packed restaurant. Lively, fun and very kid friendly. A true après ski bar, even during golf season.
The next day we were up and at 'em early, because you know, kids. We swung by D'Ellies, a slope side bakery with easy breakfast options (we opted for the nutritious option of a bacon, egg and cheese) and were ready to start adventuring.
The day started with the Little Bigelow Hike which is a family & dog friendly hike that is part of the Appalachian Trail. It was just under 45 Minutes from the AirBnB and most of the drive was on a dirt road. The parking lot to access the hike is situated directly next to Flagstaff Lake. We spent some time skipping rocks down at the water and taking in the views, and then got lost finding the entrance to the trail. Some nice folks pointed us in the right direction and Harper & Lucy were off.
The hike was an easy, fun start to our day and I was proud of how much Harper crushed it and what a champ she was walking. And because every hike deserves a ridiculously delicious treat, we made our way back to the mountain for a brunch I was very much looking forward to.
At Alice & Lulus, which is situated in the Sugarloaf Mountain Village, they offer a raclette cheese brunch. Like, the most insanely delicious cheese gets POURED ON TOP OF YOUR MEAL.
As you can clearly see, I was shooting for straight health this day.
As it wasn't their busy season and we were solo in the restaurant, we were able to chat with owner, Laura, for a bit as she happily indulged all of my prodding questions on this divine cheese and what it was like to live in Carrabbasset. She shared her love for the area and all that went into getting Alice & Lulu's open with her wife, Ciana. She basically convinced me to sell our house and move to the mountain.
We had planned to do a chair lift ride to take in more views, but frankly, I needed a nap after this meal and I convinced Harper she did too. If I were to do it again, I'd recommend a chair lift ride first that will then swoop you directly into the loving arms of the raclette brunch that are steps away from each other.
After my cheesy slumber and a good walk for Lucy around the mountain with Andrew, we packed up for another adventure before a dinner reservation. I had been scoping out the Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis not for camping, but for the views. It was on route to dinner, and I thought it might be a quick 30 minute adventure, but we happily ended up spending over an hour on the property.
The campsite was empty (again, off season = best season) and we were free to roam the opposite end of Flagstaff Lake from our earlier adventure. Harper was able to get all of her sillies out before dinner, run free through endless pine trees and delighted in discovering (and playing) on an empty playground.
We walked the water's edge and I did my best to capture the beauty around us.
We made a 5 minute drive to the sweetest of sweet restaurants, The Coplin Dinner House in Stratton. Chickens greeted us as they scurried throughout the property.
The restaurant is a special gem in this area. It's in a restored 1836 Farmhouse and the entire restaurant feels inviting and warm, while also being elegant. They were kind and patient with Harper and we definitely overstayed our welcome as I just didn't want to leave.
On Sunday, I planned for a couple quick adventures on our way back home. We made our first ever visit to Rangeley Lake and popped in and out of some stores where I bought totally unnecessary knick knacks. Harper had a major meltdown in one of the stores and we were certain the town of Rangeley would ask The Diehls to leave and never return.
Though we were permitted to stay, we got the exhausted little into the car and made our way, with trinkets in tow, to a lookout spot I'd been obsessing over for quite some time. The Height of Land overlooks the entire Rangeley Lakes region and is one of those places where no picture will really do it justice.
Satisfied with a beautiful, extremely Maine weekend we started our drive home.
But then, as the sounds of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" played from the backseat of our car, it happened. If I didn't do a sufficient job of foreshadowing at the beginning of this post, I'll just say it simply here: A MOOSE. As we turned a corner down a windy mountain, A MOOSE RAN ALONGSIDE OF US. And then it suddenly stopped. Walked slowly and magnificently in front of our car, crossed the street, stood on a FREAKING PERCHED LEDGE in all of it's glory for a solid 15 seconds, and then ran off into the distance.
With my literal jaw on the floor I managed to barely capture the one lame photo you see here: